Category Archives: Terrain360

Maryland river conservation highlighted via virtual maps

ON THE PATUXENT RIVER | First mapped by John Smith in 1608, Maryland’s serene Patuxent River now is being carefully photographed to create a virtual map that can be accessed via smartphones and computers.

Today’s high-tech mapping of the Patuxent is part of a project to create a virtual tour of the 3,000-mile Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail, which the nonprofit Chesapeake Conservancy has undertaken with Ryan Abrahamsen of Terrain360.

“What we’re doing here is groundbreaking,” Mr. Abrahamsen said last week as he directed his custom-made pontoon raft down the river during a mapping expedition. “No one’s mapped waterways like we have.”

Since 2012 his company, Terrain360, has specialized in creating 360-degree views of trails and parks, and has produced virtual tours of nature attractions in California, Utah, Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia — and now Maryland.

To photograph and document the river, Mr. Abrahamsen has built a watercraft that supports a tower with six fisheye-lensed cameras. As he travels the length of the waterway, a computer program he has designed monitors and synchronizes the cameras when they take photos.

Users accessing are treated to a virtual reality of some of the nature preserves around the country, “walking” a trail or “sailing” down a river by moving their mobile devices left or right. Desktop computers allow users to explore all aspects of the documented trails.


Jody Couser of the Annapolis-based Chesapeake Conservancy said that creating a vivid, easily accessed presentation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is a key component of the group’s conservation efforts.

“A few years ago we started this project to try to connect people — at least virtually — to the Chesapeake Bay’s great rivers, because we know that you’re not going to help protect the Chesapeake and fight for it and try to restore the Chesapeake if you’re not familiar with it,” Ms. Couser said.

Terrain360’s views of the Patuxent are also available on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s web site.

“We thought of several ways to try and connect people at least virtually to these places. These virtual tours are one example, and another is our wildlife webcams, Ms. Couser said. “What we’re hoping is that will be maybe an entry point for people, but we definitely want them to come out and experience the real thing.”

The conservancy is conducting several projects that monitor and map key areas to sharpen understanding of conservation needs such as water quality, fish survey count, land use and conservation. Other programs to engage the public include the webcams that are placed in the nests of ospreys, great blue herons and peregrine falcons.

Of its virtual tours, one of the conservancy’s most frequently visited sites is Mallow’s Bay, famous for its “ghost ships” — a veritable graveyard of destroyed seacraft, many from World War I, that were built quickly and in excess, Ms. Couser said.

“When you build something quickly, they’re often not the best quality, so after the war they decided they no longer needed them. Back in those days, they discarded them in the Potomac River — which we would never do today, of course,” she said. “But over time, now the shipwrecks have become thriving ecological habitats.”

Ms. Couser and Mr. Abrahamsen said the virtual tours are useful tools for people to research or plan a visit.

Stretching some 115 miles from the Piedmont region to the bay, the Patuxent is the longest river completely within Maryland’s borders. It separates Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles and St. Mary’s counties on its west side from Howard, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties on its east.

John Smith, who helped settle Jamestown, Virginia, explored part of the Patuxent and the Chesapeake with the aid of American Indians, and created maps that were used by travelers and traders for hundreds of years. Unveils New User Interface

Terrain360 announced today the release of its new graphical user interface for The website for interactive panoramic 360° tours of trails, waterways and national parks now boasts an improved user interface, a set of useful new features, easier and faster navigation, taking user experience to a whole new level. The improvements have been designed to provide the ultimate user-friendly experience with better functionality throughout.  Continue reading Unveils New User Interface

31 Waterways in 31 Days

fb4We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.” ― David Brower

As yet another new year beckons (entirely too quickly for our liking) we may be reflecting on the things we have made this year but also on what we aspire to in the coming year.

Take the challenge! Let’s make 2017 a year to explore the beauty of Virginia – in snow or sun. When winter hits, it’s easy to just forego the outdoors and stay home close to the fire. That’s fine if you live somewhere that dumps three feet of snow in your front yard every other day, but we don’t have that problem, right? So…to light your inner fire, in the next 31 days we’ll take you through 31 absolutely amazing waterways. Of course, they will be that much more beautiful to experience live, yet another option available for the stay-at-home nature-lovers… ->

Winter may not be the most popular season for boating or fishing … But another year comes, and warmer seasons …

Chesapeake Insider: RYAN ABRAHAMSEN

Ryan Abrahamsen is the creator of Terrain360, a company that creates virtual tours of hiking trails, national parks, and rivers throughout the United States. Similar to Google streetview, these tours use 360-degree panoramic images, taken every 40-60 feet, to put visitors into iconic places such as Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Using custom-built pontoon boats with six cameras mounted 13 feet high, Ryan and Terrain360 have travelled the Chesapeake’s many rivers as part of the Chesapeake Conservancy’s John Smith Chesapeake Trail Riverview Virtual Tour series to give you a firsthand look at the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail from the perspective of a boater in the water. Continue reading Chesapeake Insider: RYAN ABRAHAMSEN

Custom Boat With 6 Cameras Shows Unique Perspective of Md. Watersways

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– From your couch, to a kayak, you can now explore nearly all of the Chesapeake’s waterways online, all thanks to a Maryland non-profit, bringing conservation into the 21st century.

A pontoon has traversed and photographed thousands of miles of Chesapeake Shoreline, documenting the view from the water in an unprecedented way. Continue reading Custom Boat With 6 Cameras Shows Unique Perspective of Md. Watersways

Chesapeake Conservancy creates virtual waterways tour

BALTIMORE —An unusual looking boat is making its way around Chesapeake waterways and it’s on mission to give people views of the outdoors.

Operators of the boat said it will be similar to Google’s street view.

The custom-built pontoon from Richmond, Virginia-based Terrain 360 has a 14-foot mast with cameras taking pictures of the waterway.

Video Credit: WBAL-TV 11

Continue reading Chesapeake Conservancy creates virtual waterways tour

Virtual kayak the Nanticoke River

Phil Miller will never forget the day he kayaked the Nanticoke River and a bald eagle swept in and plucked a fish from the water.

“It was so cool,” he said. “It was right next to me.”

Miller, an Annapolis resident who works for Delaware’s Watershed Assessment Section, said he is “all about the Chesapeake Bay” and the Nanticoke River is one of his favorite places to explore.

“It’s one of the most pristine rivers I’ve ever had the opportunity to paddle,” he said.

Now, you can experience the Nanticoke and two other major tributaries of Chesapeake Bay without ever getting wet. Continue reading Virtual kayak the Nanticoke River

Streetview for Trails: Online Mapping with Terrain360

This week in the SAL, we continued working with Ryan Abrahamsen from Terrain360.  Last week we modified visual hierarchies on basemaps to make them more aesthetically pleasing.  To do this, we used the open source program called Mapbox. Mapbox required us to code in CSS, something none of us had ever actually done.  While most of us had coded in some regard in the past, it was either a new language to learn or a new experience altogether.  The basemaps we created and visually modified are used to house the trails and panoramas mapping them. Continue reading Streetview for Trails: Online Mapping with Terrain360